RICHMOND, Va. — Governor Terry McAuliffe issued an executive directive Wednesday that seeks to spur the creation of a new oversight agency for Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority's subway system, which has been plagued by safety and management problems and is under mounting pressure from politicians to reverse a downward spiral that has cost passengers their lives, created service outages and cut ridership, the Richmond-Times Dispatch reported.
Executive Directive 8 also instructs the Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation to review all accident investigations related to the Metrorail system, to inspect public and nonpublic areas of the system, and to assess the state of repair for all trains, tracks and other infrastructure, according to a press release issued by the governor's office.
“Our administration has been a constant advocate for stronger safety protections for the commuters who use the Metrorail system each day, including more than 300,000 Virginians,” said Governor McAuliffe. “We concur with the direction of the new leadership at WMATA and its work to ensure that safety is the central goal of the Metrorail system. By establishing the Metro Safety Commission and collaborating with our partners in Maryland and the District of Columbia, we are putting in place the necessary policies and oversight to ensure that safety continues to be the top priority.”
The federal Department of Transportation, which made the Federal Transit Administration responsible for safety oversight of WMATA last year, has pressed Virginia, Maryland and the District of Columbia to create the new agency, which will be called the Metro Safety Commission, to replace the existing Tri-State Oversight Committee, according to the Richmond-Times Dispatch. The existing committee has issued reams of safety recommendations but had little means to enforce them, federal and state officials have said.
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